August 04,2014

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Joint Statement on the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit and the 13th Annual AGOA Forum

By Senators Wyden, Hatch, Stabenow, Isakson, Corker, Coons, Flake, and Representatives Camp, Levin, Nunes, Rangel, Young (IN), Royce, Engel, Smith (NJ), and Bass

WASHINGTON – The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Finance and Foreign Relations Committees and House Ways and Means and Foreign Affairs Committees issued the following joint statement on the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit and the 13th Annual AGOA Forum:

We welcome the African leaders to the United States on this historic occasion of the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and African Trade Ministers to the 13th Annual AGOA Forum Ministerial.  Congress envisioned the Summit and Forum in 2000, when it enacted the African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGOA”) with broad bipartisan support to encourage growth and opportunity in Africa. 

Since its original enactment, AGOA has been the centerpiece of U.S. trade relations with sub-Saharan Africa and has not only enhanced trade, investment, and job creation throughout the continent, but also strengthened its democratic institutions.  AGOA has also contributed to the creation of more than 1 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa and more than 100,000 American jobs.

America’s long-term economic security is enhanced by strong economic and political ties with the fastest-growing economies in the world, many of which reside in sub-Saharan Africa.  It is in the interest of the United States to engage and compete in emerging African markets, to boost U.S.-Africa trade and investment, and to renew and strengthen AGOA.  Timely renewal of AGOA, which expires on September 30, 2015, is critical to maintaining and promoting investment opportunities in the region.

Trade has more than tripled since AGOA’s enactment in 2000, and U.S. direct investment in Africa has grown almost six-fold.  However, there is room for further progress and greater opportunities for mutually beneficial trade and investment that promote economic growth, development, poverty reduction, democracy, the rule of law, and stability.  We note that while per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa has grown more than threefold since 2001, nearly half the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives in poverty today.  In addition, diversifying sub-Saharan exports remains a goal of U.S. policy. 

Barriers to U.S. trade and investment in the region continue to inhibit the full potential of the U.S.-African trade relationship.  In addition, obstacles to trade among African countries continue to inhibit economic growth in Africa and contribute to the underutilization of AGOA.  These barriers also prevent sub-Saharan Africa from more fully integrating into global supply chains and inhibit U.S. exports.  Full implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement would help achieve regional integration and contribute to economic growth in the region.  At the same time, elimination of barriers to trade and investment in Africa, such as high tariffs, forced localization requirements, restrictions on investment, and customs barriers, among others, will strengthen and improve regional and global integration.

Again, we welcome African Leaders and African Trade Ministers and look forward to continuing to work with them to increase economic growth and eliminate barriers to trade within Africa.  The events this week provide an important opportunity to enhance economic and political relations between the United States and Africa.